Transcending Links in Affiliate Marketing

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The part of my Affiliate Marketing Manifesto (see below) which has garnered the most attention is #3. Linda Buquet has started a thread on her 5StarAffiliateMarketing Forums, so you can participate in the conversation there as well…

3. Affiliate Marketing Transcends Links
Links hold affiliate marketing hostage. Just as Jeremiah wore a yoke around his neck to show the coming servitude of Israel to the Babylonians, we affiliate marketers should heed the writings on the wall pointing us towards the dangers of positing all of our hopes and futures of industry sustainability and industry credibility on the link. Clickfraud and AdSense farms are just two examples of the sinful state we will enter if we continue down the path of praising the link while ignoring the individual doing the action of clicking. Give readers, consumers and individuals the chance to elevate themselves and your program by not insulting their intelligences with links.

Just before Thanksgiving (Nov. 22… scroll down), I posed the question (and encouraged response… of which I received none!) of how and why affiliate marketing should start to move away from links. Here’s the main point of that argument…

“However, as online marketing continues to mature, we have to confront this question about the long term establishment of links as the primary tool for connecting advertiser to publisher or merchant to affiliate or network to partner because links, by their nature, do not offer enough flexibility and data gathering for developing trends (RSS, social web adoption, social networking, more intelligent web users, uses of the internet outside of World Wide Web).”

Just today I was passed this post about the death of “information architecture” (how information on the internet is spread). There are more similarities in my argument for a move away from links in our marketing programs and the idea that the way we share information in a link-based system is slowly eroding than at first seem evident…

In many ways, the success of Google’s Pagerank algorithm was the harbinger of all this. The simple idea that people’s actions model meaning better than a directory (even a flexible directory) is a critical step forward in thinking about the Web. The innovation we’re seeing with folksonomies, recommendation systems, social networking sites…all have their roots in the idea that modeling what people actually do on the Web is the best way to provide answers for them. And, perhaps more importantly, it is an admission that we simply can’t predict the future…we can’t design a perfect information architecture, and to attempt to implies that the world we’re modeling doesn’t change.

My argument for such an evolution away from links revolves around the idea that as individuals change the way they process information on the webs (web-based office programs, feed readers) and social platforms (Second Life, MySpace, Facebook, etc) affiliate marketing has to change the way it interacts with these individuals based on their attention communications and kinesics.

Rather than trying to rebrand affiliate marketing with a new name, opening up possibilities by moving away from links and towards other means of transferring data, deals and offers could position affiliate marketing as the future of the online monetization experience.

What do you think?

  • Jonathan (Trust)

    I offered up a comment in the other thread you started about this.

    Links aren’t going anywhere, websites aren’t going anywhere. It will always be the main form. Some of the new things you talk about are an addition, not a replacement. Most people will continue to shop from their home or at work on screens where they can actually see the product.

    “by moving away from links and towards other means of transferring data, deals and offers could position affiliate marketing as the future of the online monetization experience.”

    That’s the main part that I disagree with. Like I said, it’s not an either or situation. It’s not moving away (reason I gave above). It’s an addition, it’s using various means. More opportunity.

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